|At the end of my previously mentioned study published in
al U'mma, in which I discussed the positive as well as the negative aspects of the "
Reawakening of Muslim Youth" I emphasized
That this resurgence signifies a natural, healthy
phenomenon which is clearly indicative of a return to fitrah (inborn nature), to
the roots which-for us in our Muslim homeland-is simply Islam: the beginning and the end,
into which we seek refuge from difficulties, and from which we derive a strength of
spirit, of hope, and of guidance. Our Muslim communities have tried solutions imported
from either the West or the East, but all have failed to bring about any spiritual
elevation material prosperity, goodness, or social welfare in any Muslim country On the
contrary, the adoption of these imported alien systems has involved us in a labyrinth of
difficulties which have generated disunity and disintegration in the Muslim communities.
As a result, public opinion now firmly believes in the inevitability of the Islamic
solution, i.e., the application of Shar'iah in all aspects of life. It is not surprising,
therefore, that the role of young Muslims in this endeavor is characterized by courage,
determination, and resolve.
The manifestations of rigidity and strictness in
some of our youth cannot be rectified by violence, threats, or allegations which will be
counterproductive and may lead to more severity and stubbornness. None of us can doubt the
good intentions and sincerity of the youth towards Allah (SWT) and themselves. Therefore,
such manifestations can only be remedied by identifying with the young, by understanding
their attitudes and thinking, by showing goodwill toward their intentions and aim by
bridging the gap between them and the rest of society, by conducting patient intellectual
dialogues with them in order to clarify conceptions, to clear up misunderstandings, and to
identify similarities and differences.
In pursuance of such dialogues, I have given much advice to Muslim youths. In doing so, I
sought nothing but Allah s pleasure. Believers - the Prophet (SA'AS) taught us - should
always consult with and advise one another, commanding the common good and forbidding evil
and undesirable things with patience and with perseverance. These are necessary requisites
for achieving success in this life and rewards in the hereafter. My advice however, is
intended to be a landmark which will in shaa Allah, lead us toward our goal, enable us to
avoid pitfalls and deviation, and ensure the continuity of our march. Below are some extracts:
The young are advised to respect specialization. We live in
an age m which specialization has become essential; excelling in one discipline does not
necessarily mean excelling in another. Just as a physician cannot be consulted on
engineering matters, or a physician on law, it is wrong to consider Shar`iah open to the
interpretation of all people by claiming that knowledge of fiqh and Islam, cannot be
monopolized by a special group of people, and that Islam, unlike other religions does not
recognize the existence of a class of clergy, or rijal al din. It ~s true that Islam has
never known such a class as the Christian clergy, but it fully recognizes the role
assigned to scholars specialized in religious matters and referred to m the following
Nor should the believers all go forth together. If a contingent from every expedition
remained behind, they could devote themselves to studies in religion, and admonish the
people when they return to them, that thus they [may learn] to guard themselves [against
The Qurian and Sunnah teach us to refer matters of which we
have no knowledge to the learned and the experienced:
Before you, also, the messengers We sent were but men to whom We granted inspiration. If
you realise this not, ask of those who possess the Message.
When there comes to them some matter touching [public] safety or fear, they divulge it. If
they had only referred it to the Messenger, or to those charged with authority among them
the proper investigators would have tested it from them [direct]
Ask then. about Him of any acquainted [with such things].
In another verse He says:
And none [O man!] can tell you [the
Truth] like the one who is acquainted with all things.
The Prophet (.SA'AS) also said, when he was informed that a wounded man was given afatwa
that he must wash the whole of his body before performing ablution and salah which
resulted in his death: "They caused his death, may Allah cause their death [as well]
Should not they have asked if they were not sure. . .?"
It was indeed shocking to discover that there are people who, even though totally
unqualified, are only too ready to give fatawa on the most serious and complex issues:
fatawa which may contradict those of both earlier and contemporary 'uluma' Such people may
never hesitate to dismiss as wrong the fatawa of other scholars whom they accuse of
ignorance, claiming that the gates of ijtihad are not exclusive to a special few but are
open to all. This is true, but itjihad requires certain requisites of which such people
possess none. Our predecessors have criticized even some of the learned who hastened to
give fatwa without careful consideration and knowledge of the matter saying: "Some
people hastily give fatwa on matters which, if referred to 'Umar ibn al Khattab, would
have caused him to consult all the people [who took part in the battle] of Badr," and
also, "The most daring among you in giving fatwa is the most daring [to commit sins
which will cause them] to [be sent to] the Fire."
Despite the profound depth of knowledge of the
RightlyGuided Caliphs, they used to consult and be consulted by their learned companions
when confronted with critical issues. Out of the body of fatawa which were made
collectively emerged the ijma'(consensus) in the first Islamic era. When consulted, some
companions refrained from making any comment, and others simply used to say that they did
not know. 'Utbah ibn Muslim reported that he was once Ibn 'Umar's companion for a period
of thirtyfour months. During that time, Ibn 'Umar was asked about various important
issues and he often replied that he did not know. Ibn Abu Layla related the following
about at least companions of the Prophet (SA'AS), most of whom were from among the Ansar
and were his contemporaries:
When one of them was consulted on a certain issue, he would refer the questioner to
another, who in turn would refer him to another and so on until the questioner finally
returns to the first person whom he had approached first. They wished to be spared the
reporting of a hadith or giving a fatwa in answer to a question.
Furthermore, 'Ata ibn al Sa'ib said that he observed many of his cc temporaries tremble
whenever giving fatwa. Among the Tabiun Sa'id Ibn al Musayyib-who excelled them all in
fiqhrarely gave fatwa But when he had to, he used to pray to Allah (SWT) to save him if
I was unintentionally wrong and to save those who would follow his fatwa.
The same caution is observed repeatedly in the practice of the a'immah of the followed
madhahib. It was the rule rather than the exception for them to reply that they did not
know when they were uncertain. Al Imam Malik, for instance, was exceptionally cautious and
used to say. "If person is asked about a certain issue, he should think of jannah and
of Jahannam and of his own salvation in the hereafter before he replies Ibn al Qasim also
heard Malik saying: "I have been investigating a particular issue for more than ten
years, but I have not made up my mine about it yet." Ibn Mabdi also heard Malik
saying: "Sometimes a matte' is brought to me [to investigate], and I spend the whole
night in [contemplating] it." Moreover, Musab related that his father was once
consulted on a certain issue but, uncertain, he asked his son to take the questioner to
Malik whose reply was: "I cannot tell, go and ask those who know better." Ibn
Abu Hasan said: "Malik was consulted on twenty one issues, but he only gave fatwa on
two of them, repeating several times after that: 'There is neither strength nor power
except what is given by Allah."
It is indeed not my intention to discourage young Muslims from the pursuit of knowledge
and learning. To learn is an obligation which is enjoined upon us from the cradle to the
grave. But what I intend to emphasize here is that however broad their learning and
knowledge may be they are bound to heed those who are specialized. The Shariah has various
interdisciplinary branches and usul which these young Muslims are incapable of knowing or
comprehending and for which they neither have the time nor the means. Furthermore, I feel
obliged to point out that I do not approve of the tendency of some youths who abandon the
colleges in which they have enrolled, and in which they have made good progress and are
expected to do well, and seek to specialize in Shari'ah. Such people ignore the fact that
to pursue knowledgeand to excel in any discipline-is fard kifayah: a collective
obligation. It should also be observed that the competition between Muslims and
nonMuslims for mastery of the secular sciences is at its highest. When a Muslim seeks to
learn, to excel, and acquire insight into such sciences for the sake of Allah (SWT) he is
actually performing 'ibadah and jihad.
Let us remember that when the divine message was revealed
to the Prophet (SA'AS), his earlier companions had various professions. The Prophet
(SA'AS) did not ask them to give up their work and devote themselves to the study of
Islam, except, of course, those who were entrusted with a special mission and who had to
adjust themselves to its fulfillment. What I honestly fear is that the tendency to give up
pursuing other disciplines in order to study and master Shariah may be motivated by an
unconscious covert desire for popularity, ostentation, and leadership, especially in
meetings, debates and seminars. Such a desire is not easy to detect, because Satan has
countless means and inlets into the human soul which is vulnerable to temptation, unless
that individual is constantly alert. This means that we should carefully investigate our
thoughts, motivations anstrategies; we should constantly try to find out whether these are
impelled by mundane or spiritual goals. Selfdeception is a snare which confuses motives
and blurs clarity of vision. We should never tire of reminding ourselves of this Qur'anic
verse: "Whoever holds firmly to
Allah will be shown a Way that is straight".
Since every discipline is best known by those who are
specialized in it, the young are strongly advised to acquire religious knowledge from
trustworthy scholars who have combined depth of knowledge with piety, righteousness, and
balance in their own lives. The main sources of Islamic knowledge are the Qur'an and
Sunnah, but whoever desires to enrich his understanding and knowledge of both cannot do so
without the interpretations of the 'ulama the explanation of scholar, and the
comprehension of the fuqaha' who have devoted their lives to the study of both and who
originated usul al fiqh, thereby transmitting to us a legacy which only the ignorant and
the arrogant can disregard. A person who boasts of possessing knowledge of the Qur'an and
Sunnah, but despises the knowledge handed down to us by our learned predecessors, cannot
be entrusted with the teachings of Islam. On the other hand, a person who only draws upon
the findings of 'ulama and fuqaha as well as the works of the four great jurists of Islam
but brushes aside the evidence and indications of the Qurian and Hadith ignores the source
of faith an legislation.
There are scholars who specialize in a single branch of
Islamic culture not directly related to the Qurian and sunnah, such as history, philosophy
and Sufism. These can be useful in their special fields, but they are not qualified to
give fatawa or to teach Shariah to others. Some of these may be born orators and preachers
and are able to eloquently persuade others but this does not qualify them for scholarly
investigation, because they often mix truth with myth the genuine with the false, the
significant with the insignificant. They give wrong fatawa on matters not fully
comprehended by them. They confuse issues and priorities, unduly exaggerate or
underestimate matters. However people who are enchanted by their style and eloquence
unhesitantly accept their verdicts and opinions. Thus we need to be reminded that rhetoric
is one thing and fiqh is another and that the person who excels in one does not
necessarily excel m the other.
Furthermore a person who does not practice what he preaches
is not worthy of teaching or guiding people. Practice is manifested in righteousness piety
and the consciousness of Allah (SWT) which are the fruits of genuine knowledge. The Qur'an
says: "Those who truly fear Allah among His servants are those who have
knowledge". Such piety and heeding of Allah (SWT) prevent a Muslim scholar from
indulging ignorantly in religious issues unknown to him or from serving through his
knowledgea specific ruler or regime.
A third characteristic to be observed in a truly learned person is balance which is also a
unique quality of Islam. We have been unfortunate m this age to witness opposing groups of
people who claim knowledge: the excessive and the negligent the extremist and the
rejectionist. Al Hasan al Basri warned us that "religion will be lost as a result of
the practice of both the excessive and the negligent." The former tend to prohibit
almost everything while the latter make everything lawful and permissible.
Some extremists adhere to one madhhab and seek to seal the
gates of ijtihad. On the other hand the lax and negligent defame all madhahib and endeavor
to refute all doctrines and verdicts embodied therein. There are also the literalists who
adhere to the literal interpretation of texts without any consideration for the purpose or
rules, and at the other end those who interpret the contents of the texts according to
their own whims and desires. In between the two extremes the issues are lost. We therefore
need those balanced people w ho have the mind of a faqih and the heart of a pious man;
those who reconcile duties with reality. who distinguish clearly between what is to be
expected from the less committed and what is to be expected of the committed. and know
full well that necessities have their exceptional rules and that in seeking facilitation
one must not remove the barriers between the lawful and the prohibited. or. being too
cautious. cause difficulties and hardships for people. Al Imam Sufyan al Thawri. well
known for his piety and his profound knowledge of Hadith and fiqh' said: [Regarding the
Commandments of prohibition in Islam] dispensations and licenses should be sought from a
trustworthy fiqih; but strict fatawah can be prescribed by anyone"
Young Muslims are advised to eschew excessiveness and extremism and to commit themselves
to temperance and facilitation especially m dealing with the lay people who are not
expected to react as the righteous and pious do. A Muslim can. if he so wishes. adhere to
a cautious stand on one issue or on a number of issues. But if he always disregards
religious facilitation in favor of caution and circumspection Islam will ultimately turn
into a 'set of precautions" manifest only by strictness and difficulties although
Allah (SWT) enjoins facilitation and spaciousness for His servants. Indeed the Qur'an.
Sutu7ah, and the practices of the Prophet s companions al! call for facilitation and warn
against excessiveness and against making things too difficult for the believers. The
following Qur'anic verses on the subjects of siyam; cleanliness marriage and qisas,
respectively. demonstrate this point:
Allah intends every facility
for you; He does not want to put you to difficulties.
Allah does not wish to place you in
a difficulty .
Allah does wish to lighten your
1ditficulties] for man was created weak [in flesh].
O you who believe! The law of equality is prescribed to you
in cases of murder: the tree for the free the slave for the slave the woman for the woman.
But if any remission is made by the brother [of the slain]. then grant any reasonable
demand and compensate him with handsome gratitude. This is a concession and a mercy from
your Lord. Ahadith which recommend moderation and balance and warn against
excessiveness in religion:
Beware of excessiveness in religion. [People] before you have perished as a result of
[such] excessiveness. "Ruined are those who indulge in tanatu (hairsplitting)."
And the Prophet (SA'AS) repeated the above hadith thrice. In addition, Abu Hurayrah
related the following:
A Bedouin once urinated in the masjid. The people rushed to
punish him, but the Prophet (SAAS) ordered them: "Leave him alone and pour a bucket
of water or tumbler of water [over the place where he has urinated]. Your mission is to
make things easy and not to make them difficult. " It is true that whenever the
Prophet (SA'AS) had to choose between two options he always chose the easiest, unless it
was a sin. He also addressed Mu'adh (RAA) when he heard that the latter prolonged ,salah:
"O Mu'adh! Are you putting the people on trial?" The Prophet (SA'AS) repeated
this thrice to emphasize that creating difficulties for people or attempting to use force
with them always leads to fitnah (discord,
dissuasion from one's Islamic commitments).
Moreover, a person may in seeking perfection and caution
have the right to make things difficult for himself, but he should not impose or force
the same on other people and therefore unconsciously alienate them from religion. For this
reason, the Prophet (SAAS) used to prolong Aalah whenever he was alone and to shorten it
whenever he led others.
He said in this respect:
Whoever among you leads the people in
salah he should shorten it, for amongst them are the weak, the sick, the old, and the one
who has business to attend to. And if anyone among you performs salah alone, he then may
prolong [salah] as much as he wishes.
Bukhari reported that the Prophet (SAAS) said: "As I start salah I wish to prolong it, but as soon
as I hear the crying of a child I shorten it so as to make it easier for the child's
mother" Muslim reported in his Sa,hih that the
Prophet (SA'AS) uto recite-when leading people in ,salah-short rather than long verses
from the Qur'an, 'A'ishah (RA'A) also said: "As a gesture of compassion, the Prophet (SAAS) warned people
against wi,sal [i.e., joining successive days in ,siyam]. But the people said to him: 'You
do that.' He said: 'I am not like you. My Lord gives me food and drink."'
tendency to make matters easy is more urgently needed at this time than ever
before. We live in an age which is immersed in materialism, lost in distractions, full of
evils so overwhelming that the person who sticks to his religious principles faces a great
deal of difficulty and stricture. This is the reason why the fuqaha' have approved of
facilitation in times of hardships and trying calamities.
In calling nonMuslims to Islam and when conducting dialogues with them young Muslims are
advised to follow the approach which has already been outlined for them. Several verses
can be cited in this respect:
Invite [all] to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and nice preaching, and argue with them
in ways that are best and most gracious.
Evidently, the above verse commands not only "nice
preaching" but also "the most gracious." Therefore, if there are two ways
to conduct a dialogue, the best should be adopted in order to win people's hearts and to
bridge gaps. One of the best ways is that on which points of agreement are first mentioned
and discussed leading to the points of disagreement. The Qur'an states:
And dispute not with the People of the Book, except with means better [than mere
disputation], unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong [and injury]. But say
"We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down
to you. Our God and your God is one, and it is to Him that we bow [in Islam]".
Any remaining points of disagreement will be judged by
If they wrangle with you, say:
"Allah knows best what it is you are doing. Allah will judge between you on the Day
of judgment concerning the matters on which you differ".
If this is the way a Muslim is required to conduct a
dialogue with a non-Muslim, how then should a Muslim talk to his Muslim brother with whom
he shares this great ~n? Some of our Muslim brothers confuse frankness and harshness in
expressing the truth, although the two are unrelated. A sagacious daiyah is he who conveys
and communicates the message to others in a gentle manner and in the "most
gracious" terms without, of course, compromising the content of his message. Factual
evidence should teach us that the content, no matter how great it is, is likely to be
distorted and lost through a harsh approach. This is why it was said: "He who commands the common good should do it with
Al Imam al Ghazah wrote in his book, Al Amr bi al Ma'ruf wa
al Nahi, an al Munkar: "A person commanding the common good and forbidding that which
is evil and undesirable should show compassion, sympathy, wisdom, and knowledge." To
demonstrate this he related the story of a man who came upon al Ma'mun, the prominent
'Abbasi caliph, and started to "counsel" him about vice and virtue in a rough
and crude manner with no consideration for his status. Al Ma'mun, who had a good knowledge
of fiqh, addressed the man: "Speak more kindly. Remember that Allah has sent someone
better than you to a ruler worse than me, and commanded the former to speak mildly; he has
sent Musa and Harun, who were better than you, to Pharaoh, who was worse than me, and
'Go, both of you, to Pharaoh, for he has indeed
transgressed all bounds, but speak to him mildly. Perchance he may take warning or fear
Thus, al Matmun was able to give his critic a significant advice. Moreover, Allah (SWT)
has also taught Musa ('AS) that his message to Pharaoh should be delivered in such a mild
gentle way: Go to Pharaoh, for he has indeed transgressed all bounds; and say to him,
would you want to be purified [from sin]?-and that I guide you to your Lord, so you should
Further examination of the dialogue between Musa (AS) and Pharaohas related in the
Qur'an- reveals that the former has carried out very carefully Allah's advice, despite the
latter's tyranny, arrogance, insults, accusations, and attacks, as evident in Surat al
A study of the Prophet's life and his Sunnah which pertains to this theme also reveals
kindness, mercy, and mildness, which allows no place for roughness, cruelty, or
hardheartedness. The Quran describes the Prophet's attitude in this regard:
Now has come unto you a Messenger from among yourselves. It grieves him that you should
perish and ardently anxious is he over you. To the believers he is most kind and merciful
. It also describes the Prophet's relationship with his companions:
It is part of the mercy of Allah that you deal gently with them. If you were severe or
hardhearted, they would have broken away from you.
One day, a group of Jews came upon the Prophet (SA'AS) and greeted him with: al samu
alaykum which literally means "death be upon you" instead of the usual al salamu
alaykum. 'A'ishah (RA'A) was angered by this and replied: alaykum al samu wa al lanah
(death and curse be on you). But the Prophet (SA'AS) said no more than "wa
alaykum" (and upon youi. He then turned to' A'ishah (RA'A) and said: "Allah
loves that one should be kind in all matters. A'ishah also related another hadith: "Allah is kind and He loves kindness; and
confers upon kindness that which he does not confer upon severity, and does not confer
upon anything else beside it [kindness]. Also: "Kindness makes things beautiful,
absence of kindness makes them defective.''
Jarir ibn 'Abd Allah related that he heard the Prophet
(SA'AS) say: "He who is deprived
of tender feelings is in fact deprived of all good.'' What
other punishment could be harder than being deprived of all good?
Hopefully, these Islamic texts are sufficient enough to
convince those youths who follow offensive and violent means that they must eschew the
violence, excessiveness, and extremism which have become their characteristics and follow
the path of wisdom, amicability, and tolerance.
I would like here to emphasize several
relevant and important points in the ethics of da'wah and dialogue:
- Parental and kinship rights must be observed. Neither
parents nor brothers and sisters should be treated with coarseness or disrespect on the
grounds that they are transgressors, innovators, or deviants. These failings do not cancel
their rights for kind and lenient treatment. Parental rights in particular are
categorically expressed in the Qur'an:
But if they strive to make you join in
worship with Me things of which you have no knowledge, obey then not; yet bear them
company in this life with justice [and consideration], and follow the way of those who
turn to Me [in love] .
Similarly, one can learn a great deal from prophet Ibrahim's gentle and persuasive
approach-as illustrated in the Qurian'-in trying to lead his polytheist father to the
Truth. Ibrahim persevered in his tender solicitude despite his father's brusque and
repellent tone. What then if the parents were Muslims and kind? Even if they violate some
injunctions of the Shariah, they are still entitled to parental as well as Islamic rights.
- Islam teaches the equality of all human beings, but this
should not be confused and misunderstood. There are certain differences, such as age,
which must be observed and which require us to show politeness and respect. We must indeed
observe the rights of relatives, spouses, neighbors, and rulers. Islamic ethics teach us
that the young must respect the old, that the old must show compassion toward the young.
There are many ahadith which command such attitudes: "Respect for an old Muslim is a
glorification of Allah and: "A
person who does not show compassion to the young, respect to the old, and gratitude to the
learned is not one of us.''
- Consideration must be given to those people who have rich
experience and who were very active in the field of dawah. If-for one reason or
another-they become slack and lose their enthusiasm, we must not forget their contribution
annot defame or discredit them. This is the Sunnah of the Prophet (SA'AS), as evident in
the story of Hatib ibn Abu Balta'ah, who sent a message to the pagans of Quraysh
requesting protection for his children and relatives left behind in Makkah in return for
information about the Muslims' strategy and weaponry being prepared to conquer Makkah.
When the message was intercepted and Hatib confessed, 'Umar ibn al Khattab (RA'A) was so
outraged with this treachery thut he requested the Prophet (.SA'AS) to let him cut off
Hatib's head. But the Prophet (.SA'AS) refused, saying: "How do you know; perhaps Allah has looked at [the
deeds of] the people [who fought in the battle] of Badr and said to them: Do whatever you
please for I have forgiven you [your past and future sins]." Hatibs early embrace of Islam and his courage and struggle during the battle of
Badr made the Prophet (SA'AS) accept his excuse. thus reminding his companionsand indeed
all Muslimsof the special status of those who fought in the battle of Badrthe first
battle between the Muslims and the kuffar.
- advise the young to abandon their daydreams and their
unrealistic idealism. They must come down to earth and identify with the masses, those who
live from hand to mouth in the downtrodden parts of the big cities and in the impoverished
and totally forgotten villages. In such places one can find the uncorrupted sources of
virtue, simplicity, and purity in spite of "necessity s sharp pinch." There one
can find the potential for social change. the opportunities for effort. struggle,
movement, help, and reconstruction: there one can mix with the masses and show kindness
and compassion towards the needy. the orphaned, the brokenhearted, the weary, and the
oppressed. The realization of such objectives, which is in itself a form of 'ibadah,
requires collective effort. the formation of committees dedicated to eradicating
illiteracy. diseases, unemployment, lack of initiative, and harmful habits. i.e.,
addiction to smoking, alcohol. and drugs; and on the other hand, to exposing and fighting
corruption. deviation. oppression. bribery. and other practices. The struggle to relieve
the suffering of the poor and to provide them with proper guidance is indeed a suitable
form of 'ibadah, the significance of which many Muslims are unaware. even though Islamic
teachings not only encourage the propagation of charitable deeds but commend them as
individual and collective duties.
Charitable deeds done for the welfare of the community are
the best forms of 'ibadah and are considered branches of iman, as long as those who do
them do not seek praise and cheap popularity but only the pleasure of Allah (SWT). Let us
remind ourselves of those ahadith in which we learn that several acts, ranging from
commanding the common good and forbidding the evil and the undesirable to simply removing
harmful things from a path way. are all charitable deeds. Abu Hurayrah relates the
Sadaqah is due on each joint of a person, every day the sun rises. The administration of
justice between two men is also a ,sadaqah; assisting a man to mount his beast i.e.,
donkey horse, camel, etc.], or helping him load his luggage upon it is a sadaqah; and a
good word is a sadaqah; and every step taken towards salah is a ,sadaqah, removing harmful
things from a pathway is sadaqah.
Ibn 'Abbas (RAA) also related another ,hadith to the same effect:
A ,salah is due on each joint of a person every day. A man m the audience said: "This
is the most difficult thing you have required of us." The Prophet (.SA'AS) then said:
"Your commanding the common good
and forbidding that which is evil and undesirable is a .salah, your help for the weak is a
salah your removing of dirt from a pathway is salah, and every step you take to the
[prescribed daily] ,salah is salah."
Buraydah (RA'A) related that the Prophet (.SA'AS) said:
"A man has three hundred and sixty
joints. He must give sadaqah for each one of them." They [the Prophet's companions]
said: "Who can afford to do so, O Apostle?"
thinking that It was a financial ,sadaqah. The Prophet (SA'AS) then said: "Heaping earth upon some phlegm in a masjid is
,sadaqah, removing an obstruction from a pathway is ,sadaqah.
There are many ahadith which rank cheerfulness towards other Muslims helping the blind,
the deaf and the weak, advising those who are lost and confused, relieving the distress of
the needy, etc., as forms of ibadah and sadaqah. In this way, a Muslim lives his life as a
vital source virtuous deeds, either performing good or commanding it upon others, thereby
guarding against the infiltration of evil. The Prophet (SA'AS) said: "BIessed is he whom Allah has made a key for
righteousness and a lock against evil."
However some enthusiastic idealists may argue that such social activities would hinder the
propagation of Islam and the efforts to make people understand it. They believe that
Islamic education is more obligatory than these social engagements" My reply is that
social involvement is itself a practical dawah which reaches the people in their own
environment. Calling people to Islam is not mere talk; dawah is participation in the
affairs of others and the seeking of a remedy to their problems. Al Imam Hasan al Banna
was quite aware of this and therefore established a charitable institution for social
services and financial assistance in every branch of the Muslim Brotherhood he founded in
Egypt to call for Islam. He was conscious that the Muslim is commanded to do charitable
work just as he is commanded to bow down and to prostrate himself in 'ibadah for Allah
(SWT). The Qur'an says:
O you who believe! Bow down, prostrate
yourselves and adore your Lord and do good that you may prosper. And strive in His cause
as you ought to strive [with sincerity and under discipline]. He has chosen you, and has
imposed no difficulties on you in religion.
The above defines the Muslim's threepart role in this
life: his relationship with Allah (SWT) Whom he should serve through 'ihadah; his role in
society which he should severe through charitable deeds; his relationship with the powers
of darkness and evil against which he should wage jihad. But enthusiastic idealists might
further argue that efforts should be concentrated on the establishment of an Islamic state
which applies Shariah in all aspects of life within the state and works to call for Islam
outside its borders. The realization of this goal, they argue, will automatically solve
all the foregoing problems. The establishment of an Islamic state which applies Shariah
and strives to unite all Muslims under the banner of Islam is, of course, the duty of the
whole Ummah. All du'ah must do their utmost to achieve this objective, employing in the
process the best means and methods. But the realization of this is conditional upon a
number of imperatives, some of the most important of which are: to unite all efforts, to
remove all obstacles, to convince the suspecting minds of the nobility of the cause, to
bring up Islamicallyorientated youngsters, and to prepare local as well as international
public opinion to accept their ideology and their state. All this requires time and,
indeed, perseverance. Until that dear hope is realized, Muslims must unite efforts in
order to serve their communities and to improve their societies. Such engagements will
mold, prepare, and test the abilities of future generations for the leadership of the
It is unacceptable for a Muslim who could, if he so wished, provide a cure for a patient
at a public clinic or a charitable hospital to refuse to do so because he is waiting for
an Islamic state to be established and provide such services. Nor would it be proper for a
Muslim who could organize zakah services to be indifferent to the miseries and distresses
of the poor, the orphaned, and the old and widowed, by simply hoping that the future
Islamic state would help through a comprehensive system of social welfare. It is equally
improper for a Muslim to show indifference to the tragic and costly disputes between other
Muslims claiming that these matters will be dealt with by thefuture Islamic state, which
will reconcile people and fight the aggressor.
On the contrary, the duty of the Muslim is to strive against evil and work for
righteousness to the best of his abilities, no matter how little this might be. Allah
(SWT) says in the Qur'an: "So heed
Allah as much as you can".
The following may help to illustrate my concept regarding the desired Islamic state. An
orchard of olive and palm trees takes a relatively long time to produce fruit. Is it then
logical-or even practical-for the owner to do no other work, to reap no other fruit, but
to only wait for a crop of the desired olives and dates? Of course not. He must plant
other fast-producing trees as well as vegetables to fertilize his land and to earn a
living, nurturing at the same time his olive and palm trees which will eventually provide
his anticipated and desired crop.
- My last paternal advice to young Muslims is to liberate
themselves from the fetters of pessimism and despair and assume innocence and goodness in
fellow Muslims. However, this optimism requires a conscious recognition of several
Human beings are not angels. They have not been created from light, but molded from
clay. They like their father Adam before them- are all fallible. We learn from the
Qur'an: "We had already, beforehand, taken the covenant of Adam, but he forgot, and
We found on his part no firm resolve".
Recognition of our human fallibility and proclivity to
temptation will enable us not only to tolerate and to cherish a sympathetic understanding
of the faults and blemishes of others, but will move us to remind them to have faith and
hope in Allah's mercy and to warn them of Allah's anger and of His punishment. Allah (SWT)
addressed His Messenger the Prophet Muhammad (.SA'AS):
Say: "O My Servants who have
transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives
all sins: for He is Oftforgiving, most Merciful"
The possessive pronoun in "My servants" signifies
Allah's love and concern for and indeed His benevolence toward human beings, which finds
room for abundant mercy and forgiveness for all sins however great they may be.
Second: It is imperative to understand that no one but Allah (SWT) knows what goes on in
the innermost depths of a person. Therefore we are obliged to judge people in accordance
with what they profess-what appears to us. If a person, for instance, confesses that
"there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is His Messenger," we should treat
him as a Muslim. This is in keeping with the Prophet's Sunnah. He said:
I have been ordered [by Allah (SWT)] to fight against the people until they testify that
none has the right to be worshiped but Allah, and that Muhammad is Allah's Messenger, and
until they perform ,salawat perfectly and give zakah. If they do all that, then they save
their lives and property from me and they are accountable to Allah.
This is the reason why he would not punish the munafiqin, although he was sure they were
plotting against him. When his companions suggested that he should kill them to preempt
their threat, he replied: "I fear that the people would say that Muhammad kills his
We must recognize that every person who believes in Allah (SWT) and in His Messenger
cannot be devoid of some inborn good. however evil his practice may be. Involvement in
major transgressions does not uproot a person's iman unless the transgressor deliberately
defies Allah (SWT) and scorns His commands. Here, as elsewhere, we have to heed the Sunnah
of the Prophet (SA'AS) who used to treat wrongdoers as a physician would treat a patient,
not as a policeman would treat a criminal. He was very kind to them and always listened to
The following will, in shaa Allah, illustrate this point: A
Qurayshi adolescent once came upon the Prophet (SA'AS) and asked permission to fornicate.
The Prophet's companions were so outraged by the young man's request that they rushed to
punish him, but the Prophet's attitude was totally different. Calm and composed he asked
the young man to come closer to him and asked: "Would you approve of it [fornication]
for your mother?" The young man replied: "No" The Prophet (.SA'AS) said:
"[Other] people also would not approve of it for their mothers." Then the
Prophet (SA'AS) repeatedly asked the young man whether he would approve of it for his
daughter, sister, or aunt? Each time the man answered "No," and each time the
Prophet (.SAAS) added that "[Other] people would not approve of it for theirs."
He then held the young man's hand and said: "May Allah forgive his [the young man's] sins, purify his heart, and fortify
him [against such desires]."
The Prophet's sympathetic attitude clearly indicates a gesture of good-will, a conviction
in that inborn goodness of man which outweighs the elements of evil which could only be
transient. So he compassionately and patiently discussed the issue with him until he was
able to convince him of its wrongfulness. Not only did he do that, but the Prophet (SAAS)
prayed to Allah to forgive and guide him. Extremists could argue that leniency on this
occasion was understandable, as the young man had not actually committed fornication.
Let us, therefore, consider the following example: A
married adulteress became pregnant, confessed her sin to the Prophet (.SAAS), and
determinately and repeatedly insisted that she should be stoned to death to expiate her
sin. When Khalid ibn al Walid (RAA) cursed her as she was being stoned, the Prophet (SAAS)
said to him: "Khalid, be gentle.
By Him in whose hand is my life, she has made such repentance that even if a wrongful tax
collector were to repent he would have been forgiven."
Some may argue that this woman had transgressed but then
repented. Here, therefore, is another example: During the lifetime of the Prophet (.SA'AS)
there was an alcoholic who was repeatedly brought to the Prophet (SA'AS) and was
repeatedly punished, yet still persisted. One day when he was brought again on the same
charge and was lashed, a man from among the people said: "May Allah curse him! How
frequently has he been brought [to the Prophet (SA'AS) to be punished]?" The Prophet
(SA'AS) said: "Do not curse him.
By Allah I know he loves Allah and His Messenger."
It is also reported that the Prophet (SA'AS) said: "Do not assist Satan against your brother."
The Prophet (SA'AS) prevented them from cursing him because
their action could create discord and illfeeling between the man and his Muslim
brothers-his transgression should not sever the bond of brotherhood between him and other
Muslims. Deep contemplation of the above examples and incidents amply demonstrates the
Prophet's insight into the inherent element of goodness in man. We need, more than ever
before, to study and follow the exemplary pattern that the Prophet (.SAAS) has set for us.
Those extremists who indiscriminately accuse whoever makes a mistake of kufr or shirk must
understand that they have to change their strategy and learn that a great deal of the
corruption and perversion they abhor results mainly from ignorance of Islam, bad company,
or forgetfulness. The solution is to help people overcome and defeat all these problems.
To be harsh, to accuse others of kufr, and to find fault with whatever they do only serves
to alienate and estrange them. A wise man once said: "Rather than cursing darkness, try to light a candle for the
This is my advice for the enthusiastic and sincere young Muslims whom I hold very dear. My
intention in all this is found in the following words of Prophet Shuayb (AA) as revealed
in the Quran:
I only desire [your] betterment to the
best of my power: and my success [in my task] can only come from Allah. In Him I trust,
and unto Him I look.